Like a grizzly bear, I have finally emerged from my winter hibernation—well-rested, re-energized, and looking to eat everything in sight. I’ve returned from the Christmas holidays more excited to study abroad than ever before, but a new semester comes with its own set of new challenges.
Being an Academic Year student is in itself a kind of challenge—most students who study abroad through Arcadia programs only study for a semester, so coming back to Rome meant coming in to a whole new crop of faces and potential friends! And re-doing a week of study abroad orientation is no easy feat. Orientation week here at Arcadia in Rome means a lot of walking tours, very little sleep, and the opportunity to prove to yourself and your neighbors that any night can be karaoke night if you have enough gumption. (Shout out to Scholars Lounge for being the unofficial Arcadia in Rome karaoke hotspot!) Orientation week also means a lot of social scrambling and personality mixing. Generally speaking, there’s a lot of talk of goals—travel, academic, or otherwise—and its gotten me thinking about how my goals have changed since the start of last semester.
Some of them are the same. I still need to snag that selfie with a Swiss guard, and I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of drinking from Roman water fountains. But a lot of my goals have altered, or at least shifted. For instance, I want my travel this semester to be almost entirely focused on Italy. Last semester, I was so interested in a European experience that I feel I neglected my Italian experience. This time around I won’t be making that mistake again, if only for the pride of saying I’ve eaten my way through all the regions of Italy. And speaking of eating, that’s something I want to do more as well. I realized as last semester drew to a close that I had barely been out to eat at all—of course, I had my small pizza and gelato haunts, but I had neglected to make restaurant hopping a priority. In such a foodie culture, not eating out regularly feels like a mistake. This goal is a risky one, mostly because last semester I was careful and still gained 10 pounds, but I figure: “When in Rome!”
I also want to make it a priority to do a few more offbeat touristy things before my time in Rome is over. Last week, I went to the Tivoli Gardens just outside of Rome with a group of Arcadia in Rome students. For those of you unfamiliar with the cinematic masterpiece that is The Lizzie McGuire Movie, the Tivoli Gardens is where Paolo, the hot Italian (non-pedophile) popstar, brings middle-schooler Lizzie in order to romance her. Elementary school me thought this movie was the height of sophistication and European Elegance, so I bussed myself (sans-popstar escort) up to Tivoli to give The Lizzie McGuire Movie the credit it deserves. If I’m being totally honest, the movie isn’t quite as good now that I’m no longer 7, but the gardens exceed expectations!
Ultimately, the goal this semester is culture. Food, wine, music, art, and religion—I’m aiming for a better understanding as well as attempting enthusiastic participation. I figure if I aim for “Elegant and Cultured European”, hopefully I’ll land on something better than my usual “Hot Mess”.